Comments by Matt Berkley on possible influence of police on Tony Gauci's evidence
10 December 2010
....the long-drawn-out process of the police interacting
with Mr Gauci - not just during interviews but also buying Slalom shirts and
taking him to Scotland among other events - gives rise to this question:
Is it reasonable to exclude the possibility that communications by police (whose careers might depend on the outcome) about descriptions of the buyer were successfully avoided? It isn't just in the interview room that suggestion can happen.
That doesn't mean it did happen, but the possibility does have to be, I "suggest", taken into account in assessing Mr Gauci's evidence.
A dodgy part of the verdict is where the judges wrongly imply that Mr Gauci remembered the Slalom shirts in September 1989. The process by which he came to say he remembered selling them to the man only after the police bought similar shirts must be suspect.
How can we be reasonably sure that a similar thing did not happen in the case of the description? Showing slight disinterest or disapproval when Tony says "and he was a tall guy" outside the formal interview, for example, can have an effect over time.
(The judges may have erred in a similar way to that above in misrepresenting the evidence about decorations, eliding court and police evidence.)
General pressure on Mr Gauci not to upset the police he had got to know over the years cannot be excluded either, as a possible factor leading him to ignore his previous statements about height, age and skin colour at the ID parade and at court and changing his "identification" from people who, really, didn't look much like either Mr Megrahi or his 1986 passport photo used in the 1991 spread.
The 1991 "identification" is the strongest evidence the prosecution had, and we have to ask whether it is reasonable to think he must have later had different and accurate memories about both the body and the face (as well as the decorations, the shirt and the rain), or there may be some other reasonably possible explanation.
Going on and on until the witness changes their story and description to fit those of the investigators isn't the best way to arrive at the truth.